Hemingway's formation of In Our Time

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Author: John Beall
Date: Fall 2015
From: The Hemingway Review(Vol. 35, Issue 1)
Publisher: Chestnut Hill College
Document Type: Article
Length: 7,229 words
Lexile Measure: 1560L

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Folders 96 and 97A in the Hemingway Collection at the John F. Kennedy Library capture moments in Hemingway's formation of In Our Time (1925). As of the materials in Folder 97A, written in summer or early fall of 1924, Hemingway planned to include "Up in Michigan" and "Summer People," but he had not yet decided where to place "Big Two-Hearted River." Probably written later, the notes in Folder 96 show Hemingway's replacing "Summer People" with "The Three-Day Blow." Both folders suggest that Hemingway was settled on the order of marriage tales and bullfighting chapters in the collection. Hemingway's notes in these folders reflect his shaping and reshaping the order of the stories and chapters that formed the collage of In Our Time.

KEY WORDS: Structure, Composition, Formation


Many scholars believe that once Hemingway decided to combine his chapters from the Paris in our time (1924) with his early short stories, he had the design for In Our Time published by Boni and Liveright in 1925. For example, Thomas Strychacz argues that Hemingway's combination of chapters and stories reflects the collage approach of Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Sergei Eisenstein, and James Joyce (60). Jacqueline Vaught Brogan examines the affinities between the cubists and Hemingway's construction of the chapters of in our time and the stories of In Our Time. Joseph Flora points out that "Hemingway, with more than the touch of the poet, had labored mightily to make his first major book, In Our Time, function as a complex unity" (11). Though scholars recognize that the structure of In Our Time is important, they have not fully explored the extensive work Hemingway devoted to shaping the order of the collection.

In separate letters to Edmund Wilson (18 October 1924), Horace Liveright (31 March 1925), and John Dos Passos (22 April 1925), Hemingway explains how the interconnection of stories and chapters is vital to his shaping of In Our Time (Letters vol. 2 166, 295, 322). In his letters to Liveright and Dos Passos, he uses virtually the same phrase ("shot to pieces," "shot up shit creek") when protesting against the possible excision of the chapters from the collection. He insists on the collage of stories and chapters in these letters, and he would do so again in writing to Maxwell Perkins about the reissue of In Our Time in 1930. Hemingway's insistence with Perkins on retaining the chapters from in our time, as intertwined with his stories for In Our Time, suggests that both are essential to the unity of the collection.

Despite the wide recognition of the careful construction of In Our Time, no one, so far as I know, has discussed the implications of Folder 96, Folder 97, and Folder 97A in the Hemingway Collection at the John F. Kennedy Library in charting midway points in its formation. (1) In the contents of Folder 97A, Hemingway wrote out by hand, mostly on French Cablogramme Western Union pages (undated), a draff of the order for In Our Time, along with...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A436542789